Dear Readers,

Discussing US Citizenship and Immigration forms is normally not a subject most people would find interesting, but there has been some drama when it comes to the dozens of forms USCIS requires for its various immigration filings.

First, the fees for those forms just rose dramatically after many years. The agency is required to go through a formal rulemaking process in order to raise or lower fees and for most processes, they are required to charge a fee that covers the agency’s costs. In 2019, the agency attempted to raise its fees, but a lawsuit was filed claiming that the agency did not comply with the Administrative Procedures Act. A court set aside the rule and USCIS took another four years to make its next attempt. The agency issued a proposed rule in January of 2023 and received thousands of comments. It issued a final rule in January 2024 and that rule had an effective date of April 1, 2024.

The rule increased fees dramatically for almost every process. For example, the base fee for an H-1B visa increased by 70% plus a $600 surcharge was added to help fund the asylum adjudication process. Asylum applications do not have a fee. The largest increase was for EB-5 immigrant investor petitions which went from just over $7000 for the two parts of the process to more than $20,000. The more commonly filed L-1 visa application more than tripled in price ($460 to $1385). Adjustment of status applications for green card applicants are nearly doubling in price as the agency is now charging extra for interim work and travel benefits.

USCIS is also seeking to increase the popularity of its online filing process by discounting the fees of one of its most popular applications – the I-765 – for those using online filing. The agency believes the system will help it dig out from under massive backlogs in most application categories. The agency has been the subject of more than 10,000 mandamus action lawsuits – a huge increase in recent years – due to the long waiting times.

As expected, litigation was filed to try and get a temporary restraining order and stop the rule from taking effect. A judge denied the request in late March and the fee increase went into effect on April 1st (even though a snafu led to the agency inadvertently keeping the old fees posted on its website until mid-day on April 1st).

The agency also released a number of new forms that went into effect immediately and which reflected the new fees. One substantive change is the inclusion of a new gender option on the N-400 naturalization application. USCIS has provided a third gender option, “X,” defined as “Another Gender Identity” and applicants with pending Forms N-400 may request to update their gender. USCIS intends to make this option available on other forms but has not indicated when that will happen.

Best Regards,

Greg Siskind

Ask Visa Law

By Robby Rubin

How do I change/update my address with USCIS so that I continue receiving important documents at my new location? 

Prior to April 1, 2024, individuals were required to file form AR-11 or visit a USCIS field office to report the change of address. However, on April 1, 2024, USCIS introduced a new method for updating your address. Customers can now use the Enterprise Change of Address self-service tool available through their USCIS online account. This tool allows individuals to update their mailing and physical address with USCIS for pending applications, petitions, or requests all in one place. This eliminates the need to update the address in multiple places, fill out a paper Form AR-11 (Alien’s Change of Address Card), call the Contact Center, or visit a USCIS Field Office. The tool is currently available in English and can be accessed even if the individual filed a paper case. It’s important to note that changing your address with the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) does not update your address with USCIS, and USPS will not forward mail from USCIS. Therefore, it’s necessary to update your information with both USCIS and USPS. 

Form AR-11 is still available for individuals who would like to file a change of address through paper. However, USCIS announced that the form will eventually be discontinued.  

The new change of address self-service tool is not available for individuals who filed benefit requests subject to confidentiality provisions or prohibitions on disclosure of information. Therefore, individuals with a pending or approved VAWA self-petition, Form I-751 Abuse Waiver, or a pending or approved petition for a U or T visa are not permitted to use the new change of address self-service tool. Instead, these individuals are instructed to follow the specific instructions provided by USCIS as to how they should update their address. 

In the News from ABIL

FY 2025 H-1B Cap Registration Period Opens Soon; USCIS Issues Reminders for Employers About Online Filing, Other New Requirements for Cap and Non-Cap Petitions

The initial registration period for the FY 2025 H-1B cap season will open at noon ET on March 6, 2024, and run through noon ET on March 22, 2024. A USCIS online account is required to register each beneficiary electronically for the selection process and pay the associated $10 registration fee. 

Certain Updated Forms Take Effect April 1 With No Grace Period

Under the new fee final rule effective April 1, 2024, the new 04/01/24 editions of several forms will be required. 

Reminder: Premium Processing Fees Have Increased

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services reminded employers that fees for Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing, increased as of February 26, 2024. 

Eligible Ukrainians Can Apply for Re-Parole

Eligible Ukrainian citizens and their immediate family members who were paroled into the United States on or after February 11, 2022, and are physically present can apply for re-parole. 

DOS Implements New Visa Restrictions for Transportation Operators Facilitating Irregular Migration

The Department of State has implemented a new visa restriction policy that “targets owners, executives, and senior officials of charter flight, ground, and maritime transportation companies providing transportation services designed for use primarily by persons intending to migrate irregularly to the United States.” 

E-Verify to Pilot ‘Next Generation’ Service in Spring 2024

E-Verify+ will include streamlining of Form I-9 and the employment eligibility verification process. 

DOS Signs MOU With Germany on Exchange Visitor Program

The Department of State has signed a memorandum of understanding with Germany to allow certain German principals to come to the United States as J-1 exchange visitors. 

Mayorkas Impeached; Conviction in Senate Seems Unlikely

After a previous failed attempt to impeach Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, Republicans in the House of Representatives succeeded in impeaching Mr. Mayorkas on February 13. Conviction in the Senate seems highly unlikely. 

President Orders Deferred Enforced Departure for Palestinians in the United States

On February 14, 2024, President Biden directed the Secretary of Homeland Security to grant Deferred Enforced Departure to Palestinians in the United States for 18 months, with some exceptions. 

ETA Extends Comment Period for Responses to PERM Schedule A Request for Information ETA said it has received “a very limited number of comments, only a few of which have responded to the questions posed in the RFI.” The public comment period has been extended to May 13, 2024. 

CIS Ombudsman Releases Tips on How to Avoid Getting Locked Out of Your USCIS Account The tips include how to create a strong password, the importance of logging in regularly to maintain access, what to do when locked out, how to reset a password, security considerations, and how USCIS’s Technical Help Desk works to assist with account access. 

ETA Updates Allowable Charges for Agricultural Workers’ Meals and for Travel Reimbursement, Including Lodging

The Employment and Training Administration announced updates to the allowable monetary charges that employers of H-2A workers, in occupations other than herding or production of livestock on the range, may charge workers when the employer provides three meals per day. The annual notice also announced the maximum travel subsistence meal reimbursement a worker with receipts may claim under the H-2A and H-2B programs, and reminded employers of their obligations concerning overnight lodging costs as part of required subsistence. 

USCIS Releases FY 2023 Data and Highlights of FY 2024 Plans

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services released end-of-fiscal-year 2023 data and highlights of its plans for FY 2024. 

EOIR to Transition to DOJ Login

The Executive Office for Immigration Review is implementing a phased migration to DOJ Login that it expects to complete this spring. EOIR will notify users by email when it is time for them to activate their new DOJ Login ID. 

USCIS Implements Streamlined Process to Shorten Wait Times for EADs, SSNs for Refugees

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is implementing a streamlined process to provide Employment Authorization Documents more efficiently to eligible refugees after they are admitted into the United States. USCIS will also electronically provide the Social Security Administration with the information required to assign a Social Security number and mail a Social Security card to the refugee. 

USCIS Issues Guidance Clarifying Anti-Discrimination Policy for USCIS Employees and Contractors Interacting With Public

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services clarified its anti-discrimination policy pertaining to USCIS employees and contractors interacting directly or indirectly with members of the public.  

E-Verify Updates Tutorial

E-Verify updated its tutorial and knowledge test “to accurately reflect E-Verify’s processes, images, branding, and resources, and to provide new and existing users with an improved experience.” The tutorial requirement and process has not changed. 

USCIS Extends FY 2025 H-1B Cap Initial Registration Period to March 25

The initial registration period will now run through noon ET on March 25, 2024. 

USCIS Clarifies Policy Guidance Clarified on Expedite Requests

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) clarified how the agency considers expedite requests related to government interests and emergencies or urgent humanitarian situations, including travel-related requests. The update also clarifies how to make an expedite request and explains how USCIS processes expedite requests. 

DHS Extends and Redesignates Burma (Myanmar) TPS

The Department of Homeland Security is extending and redesignating Burma (Myanmar) for Temporary Protected Status. 

USCIS Reopens Field Office in Tegucigalpa, Honduras

The Tegucigalpa Field Office will be located inside the U.S. Embassy in Honduras. 

U.S. District Judge Declines to Temporarily Stop Immigration Fee Increases

A U.S. District Judge in Colorado denied a request for a temporary restraining order to stop immigration fee increases scheduled to take effect April 1, 2024. 

USCIS Announces Filing Location Change for Certain Employment-Based Forms

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that on April 1, 2024, it is changing the filing location from USCIS service centers to a USCIS lockbox for several employment-based forms. 

USCIS Reminds Employers About H-1B I-129 Filing Location Change and FY 2025 H-1B Cap Updates

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued several H-1B-related announcements and reminders. 

Naturalization Applicants Can Now Request Social Security Numbers on Form N-400

Beginning April 1, 2024, noncitizens applying for naturalization, using the new edition of Form N-400 (edition date 04/01/24), can complete additional questions on the form to request an original or replacement Social Security number card and to authorize U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to update their immigration status as a U.S. citizen with the Social Security Administration. 

New Law Provides Immigrant Visas to Certain Foreign National Employees of U.S. Government Abroad

Foreign nationals (and their spouses and children) can now receive special immigrant visas when the foreign national has been employed by the U.S. government abroad for at least 15 years and it is in the national interest to award the visa. 

DOJ Secures Agreement With IT Staffing Company to Resolve Hiring Discrimination Claims Under the terms of the settlement, the staffing company will pay $100,000 in civil penalties to the United States, train its employees on anti-discrimination requirements, revise its employment policies, and be subject to monitoring by the Department of Justice. 

In Surprise About-Face on April 1, USCIS Cancels Raised Fees, Lowers Most Fees, and Freezes Other Fees

The agency said it was just kidding about the immigration and naturalization-related fee “adjustments” scheduled for April 1, 2024. 

State Department Visa Bulletin

To view the April 2024 Visa Bulletin from the State Department: click here.

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